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Diagnosis

 
Diagnosis

Chapter: 4 - Diagnosis

Subchapter: 1 - Causes of Breast Cancer

Causes of Breast Cancer

- What if it’s cancer?
- What caused it?
- What should I do now?
- How is breast cancer treated?
- How long will treatment take?
- What will it be like?
- Will I be okay?
- What about my family?

When a lump or suspicious site in your breast is detected, it raises some serious questions. In this chapter, we are going to do our best to answer them. We will discuss what doctors know and do not know, how to react to your diagnosis as well as how to understand it, and how to move beyond the shock.

Risk Factors
So what do scientists actually know about the causes of cancer? It’s a difficult question. Cancer grows when a cell’s DNA is damaged, which we discussed in Chapter 3, but why or how that DNA becomes damaged is still unknown. It could be genetic or environmental, or in most cases a combination of the two. But most patients will never know exactly what caused their cancer.

However, there are certain established risk factors that are associated with breast cancer:

- A family history with breast cancer
- Early menstruation (before age 12)
- Late menopause (after 55)
- Breast tissue that is more dense with lobular and ductal tissue relative to fatty tissue
- Noncancerous cell abnormalities

These factors are genetic, they are not something you can control.

60-70% of people with breast cancer have no connection to them at all, and other people with risk factors will never develop cancer.

Related Questions

  • Thumb avatar default

    What does positive for CK AE 1/3, but negative for CD-68, ER and PR. They are suspicious for adenocarcinoma. What does all that mean?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 3 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      If this diagnosis is for yourself, contact your oncologist, radiologist, surgeon and ask them to translate this for you. If not for you but for a friend or relative, I would say the same thing. I don't have a clue and wouldn't even take much of a guess. "The patient" needs to have a face to...

      more

      If this diagnosis is for yourself, contact your oncologist, radiologist, surgeon and ask them to translate this for you. If not for you but for a friend or relative, I would say the same thing. I don't have a clue and wouldn't even take much of a guess. "The patient" needs to have a face to face appointment to have questions answered. This sounds like a complicated lab report and you need some translation. I am suprised when patients receive this kind of technical report and are left hanging. Hopefully, you or the patient will get some answers soon. I'd be standing on their doorstep to be the first one in line for an appointment. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • Mary Foti Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2010

      It is so frustrating to get reports like this, isn't it? I took my path report to another surgeon and an oncologist to get 2nd opinion and a "translation." I was an English major for crying out loud! Anyway, call your oncologist and ask for an appointment to review these results. Typically that...

      more

      It is so frustrating to get reports like this, isn't it? I took my path report to another surgeon and an oncologist to get 2nd opinion and a "translation." I was an English major for crying out loud! Anyway, call your oncologist and ask for an appointment to review these results. Typically that is an appointment that is done anyway, after surgery. Your oncologist will help you interpret these crazy numbers and letters and recommend an appropriate and effective treatment for your stage, type and grade of cancer. If he/she does not explain it to your understanding and/or if you are not comfortable with that oncologist or the recommended treatment, find anther oncologist. Best wishes and please let us know what all of that means when you find out!

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    My mother is 69 yrs old. just diagnosed with L breast cancer, pending biopsy. She is resident of USAbut not citizen, DOESN'T HAVE ANY INSURANCE, how can I get her treatment?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      I would contact the American Cancer Society, Planned Parenthood, and Susan G. Komen Foundation. They would be sources of information for your Mom's treatment.

      Take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • Vicki Geer Fournier Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      I would also contact the state you live in to see if they have sort of plan for women with breast cancer. I live in New Hampshire & New Hampshire & Maine have a "no women be left behind" progam (Breast & Cervical Cancer program). I am on that & once I was diagnosed I automatically was approved...

      more

      I would also contact the state you live in to see if they have sort of plan for women with breast cancer. I live in New Hampshire & New Hampshire & Maine have a "no women be left behind" progam (Breast & Cervical Cancer program). I am on that & once I was diagnosed I automatically was approved for Medicaid (but only for the breast cancer) What a relief it was not to have to worry about the bills. GOOD LUCK!

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    How can one detect breast cancer early on her own?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 8 years 2 answers
    • vicki e Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2B Patient

      Norma is right about following your gut feeling. Four years ago I found a lump and got a mammogram. Nothing showed up on mammo but a biopsy proved my concern was valid. In february of this year I found a lump under my arm that doctor pooh poohed as nothing. I insisted on further testing and had 9...

      more

      Norma is right about following your gut feeling. Four years ago I found a lump and got a mammogram. Nothing showed up on mammo but a biopsy proved my concern was valid. In february of this year I found a lump under my arm that doctor pooh poohed as nothing. I insisted on further testing and had 9 positive nodes removed 2 wks later Listen to your gut and be your own best advocate. It's your body.

      1 comment
    • Norma Johnson Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      You can check your breast often, get mamo when you should and if anything feels funny such as in my case just a funny feeling....let your Dr. Know!

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    Can you get breast cancer when your 17? I have weird lumps in both my breasts. One behind my nipple the other further back and to the right they both feel solid Is it just paranoia or do I tell my parents and set up an appt

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 10 answers
    • View all 10 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      PLEASE share your fears with your parents. You need to be checked for your own piece of mind. As you are being checked, your doctor can discuss and instruct you how to do Breast Self Checks. Do not continue to try to live with this fear, have your Mom make an appointment for you. It will make...

      more

      PLEASE share your fears with your parents. You need to be checked for your own piece of mind. As you are being checked, your doctor can discuss and instruct you how to do Breast Self Checks. Do not continue to try to live with this fear, have your Mom make an appointment for you. It will make you feel a whole lot better. The fear of the unknown is almost worse than a disease. The vast majority of the lumps we find are not cancer. Our imaginations can paint a very terrifying picture and you should not be stuck there. Big hugs, and take care, Sharon

      1 comment
    • cindy stephenson Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Tell your parents and get things checked out. Cancer doesn't discriminate so you need to be sure everything is ok.

      Comment

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